Weekend Genius Challenge #8: Two Words

CONTEST NOW CLOSED. Click here to see the 20 finalists. Thanks to all of our players!

We hope you all had an enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving. In the spirit of the holiday, we're taking it a bit easy with this Weekend Genius Challenge. In fact, you can win it by replying with only two words. And, in the process, you'll change the world! How? Read on.

You probably know that "Google" has developed into a verb for looking up information on the Internet. You can search for almost anything, and find tons of information (and misinformation) on the billions of pages linked. So here's our challenge: Find a two-word sequence in quotes that results in zero "hits" on Google. The twist: instead of looking for the most extreme examples, we're looking for the most mundane ones. While you can use "tintinnabulation" in your entry, you'll be much more likely to win by using "ringing" instead, provided you can find a word to match it with.

Feel free to explain why or in what context your two-word phrase should have shown up somewhere on Google... you might sway us! You can enter twice, as long as each entry is in a separate post. And make sure you read the rules in the box below to know exactly how to play. The winner will receive one mental_floss T-shirt in the style/size of his or her choice! We'll vote on the entries and declare a winner early next week.

(How will this "change the world," you ask? Simple: Google spiders our blog entries, so after we declare a winner, a few days later, that post will pop up in Google's results when you search for the winning two-word phrase. Thus, that phrase will no longer be a Google zero, and anyone from now on who searches for that phrase will see your winning entry!)


  • Your entry must be Googled in quotes as a phrase. For fun, we tried "meson rodeo" and came up with two results.
  • No potty mouths. Tsk, tsk. 
  • Two entries per player, but each entry must be in its own comment.
  • At the end of your post, write which T-shirt you want from the store (click the link to browse the styles).
  • Comments are moderated, so they won't appear on the site until we release them, but we'll keep them in order and make them live regularly throughout the weekend. We'll reveal the winner early next week in a post.
  • If you hope to win, please use your correct email address when commenting, so that we can contact you. 

Two more words for you: Good luck!

Gasp... Is This the End of the Weekend Genius Challenge?

It's been a struggle to come up with mental exercises that are difficult enough for the many, many brilliant folks who read mental_floss and visit mentalfloss.com. It's difficult to develop puzzles that are (1) safe from Web searches, but (2) not impossible to solve. After seeing many difficult contests won in a matter of minutes, I'm taking this weekend off to reassess the Weekend Genius Challenge.

We get the most entries in creative-type challenges... having you write haikus using the two words from the ReCaptcha service, asking you to tell us where the "lost" hour went during Daylight Saving Time, and so forth. So we're considering going that route for future WGCs. What do you think? Ideas, suggestions, and comments are more than welcome. In fact, if you'll kindly take the time to chime in, we'll pick a random comment and send the responsible party the mental_floss T-shirt of his or her choice. Thanks in advance.

In the meantime, we'll continue to do Brain Games on a daily basis, with puzzles of varying description each weekday. And we'll have results for the last two WGCs in a day or two. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Weekend Genius Challenge #30: Unwritten Rules

We got SO many entries for last week's WGC that it may take us the rest of the weekend to sort through all the responses... but we'll choose a winner before Monday arrives. In the meantime, since you all seem to enjoy being creative, let's give away another T-shirt by unleashing Weekend Genius Challenge #30!

Many "unwritten rules" guide our planet. Here are a few I've jotted down over the years:

1. All really good architects must go by three names.

2. The number of leaves that end up in your yard in the fall has more to do with your neighbor's trees than your own.

3. During trip to a restaurant with someone else, when you ask for two orders of fries, both orders will be incredibly large and too much to eat. But the next time you go to that restaurant with someone else and ask for only a single order of fries -- thinking it will be enough to share -- the order will be incredibly small.

Your job is to fill us in on the "unwritten rules" that you've experienced in life. The mind behind the one we vote best will win a T-shirt of his or her choice from our online store. REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT: To be absolutely clear, your entries should have nothing to do with identity, race, color, religion, sexual preference, political preference, physical or mental issues, or anything bordering that. In other words, don't direct them towards any person or group of people who might possibly take offense. So be smart. Play nice. Sit up straight. And tell your sister you love her.

Also, please remember that all comments will be moderated before they're released, so it may take a while for them to appear on the site. Enter as many times as you like, but please put each entry in a separate comment. Good luck!


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